Fish is recognized as a healthy source of protein, beneficial fats, and micronutrients leading the FDA to recommend that adults eat fish up to three times a week. Americans, however, are eating roughly half the recommended amount of seafood. This deficit could be filled by sustainable aquaculture production, reducing our dependence on dwindling wild fisheries. There is, however, substantial consumer confusion surrounding aquaculture and its sustainability, the health benefits of consuming farm-raised fish, and how to prepare and cook fish at home. The overarching goal of this project is to educate the general public about aquaculture and increase the ability of consumers to make informed decisions about aquaculture products through the development of clear, objective, and evidence-based educational materials and engagement activities for both adults and youth (addressing a need repeatedly identified at the 2020 NCRAC listening sessions). We will engage communities through online educational content (e.g., videos), high school and community education curricula, and outreach workshops that educate communities about the health and sustainability of aquaculture. The majority of these materials (as well as detailed templates and protocols for engagement activities) will be made available for future use by educators and extension personnel throughout the NRC.
- Compile and evaluate readily available resources related to (1) adult consumer education and (2) youth engagement in US aquaculture.
- Develop, facilitate, and disseminate adult consumer education materials and programming on seafood and aquaculture.
- Develop, facilitate, and disseminate youth educational materials and programming on seafood and aquaculture.
- Report of comprehensive list of web-based aquaculture educational materials currently available with an evaluation of some of the most relevant and/or visible of these resources.
- Results of a survey designed to develop a better understanding of some of the barriers to educating the public about aquaculture based on the opinions of aquaculture professionals.
- Several short educational videos and online educational modules about aquaculture and wild fisheries, information relevant to identifying and selecting responsible seafood products, and how to prepare seafood at home.
- Several in-person (or virtual, if necessary) workshops to teach adults proper selection, handling, and cooking of aquaculture products to reduce barriers to individuals cooking fish at home.
- Expansion of the NCRAC Youth Education in Aquaculture website to increase scope and school involvement throughout the NCR which will include workshops for teachers interested in including these experiences in their curriculum.
- Expansion and development of a formal lesson plan designed to empower youth through education about aquaculture and teaching them to harvest fish from classroom aquaponics units, clean them, and cook them; this will include several in-person (or virtual, if necessary) demonstrations for youth.
- Delivery of several in-person fish preservation, cooking and cleaning workshops in partnership with Native American and rural organizations to help re-engage their youth in traditional uses of fish; these activities will be accompanied by appropriate educational materials about fish as a healthy food source and production of short videos to highlight the collaborations.